As a first-generation Puerto Rican girl growing up in the Bronx in the 80’s, I never really thought I was that special.
I believed that the world that I witnessed around those brick walls were all that existed. I possessed an extremely vivid
imagination and displayed exceptional intelligence in reading/writing comprehension and communication skills. As I matured,
my interests spanned into the vast components of the field of arts and humanities. I was unaware of the possibilities
behind the knowledge I owned and it’s ability to provide escape from the alleys I faced and opportunity to provide change
for others. Eventually, I gained focus and soared above my expectations into the vast sea of the arts and communications.
Somehow, I can recall carrying on philosophical and often passionate conversations with my mothers’ girlfriends and
constantly being dismissed from "grown up" conversations. Eventually, I was labeled and misunderstood as possessing character
flaws and eccentricity, when in actuality I was a gifted, creative mind in need of an outlet. Unfortunately, programs that
introduced guidance through the arts were scarce in my schools; therefore my eagerness to experience more of how others also
expressed their human spirit grew feverishly. Something rather profound was planted in the mind of a pigtailed bookworm, searching
for a world in paperback, handed a life wrapped in hard cover.
W.I.S.E. Youth (Ways to Inspire Self-Empowerment in Youth) is a partnership between positive mentors and interested adolescents
to motivate, stimulate, and develop personal awareness, self esteem, and necessary skills for self-advocacy and empowerment.
Through our creative yet introspective group/individual activities, each youth is offered the opportunity to become an essential
part of the program as well as to develop the knowledge and skills that can be applied to their daily lives. We will facilitate
the journey to the ways of knowing self by aiming to promote proper decision-making; opposition to high-risk behaviors and
suggesting active alternatives to improve lives as well as to redirect negativity. Broadening their definitions and perceptions
that mainstream society has imposed; we will encourage youth to express themselves freely through the arts and humanities.
This program will adhere to the standards of a safe, supportive environment where their voices are heard and their individual
strengths are nurtured.